No Carbs, Please! The Essential Guide To A Low-Carb Life

“Contributed Post”

A low-carb dinner option.

Carbohydrates have become a major source of concern for many people. Once seen as an essential part of a “balanced diet”, carbohydrates are now demonized to the point where millions of people have drastically reduced their intake.

Below, let’s explore some of the most common questions people have about low-carb diets, and offer a few food alternatives for what you should be eating instead.

Which Diets Are Low-Carb?

Two of the most popular diets of recent times are low-carbohydrate in nature. Both of these diets are used for weight loss as well as for general health maintenance.

Paleo

The paleo diet is a fairly simple eating plan. Advocates of paleo eating try to only eat foods as they would have been found thousands of years ago. They avoid anything processed or anything containing too much sugar. Grains are strictly limited; given that most grains contain substantial carbohydrates, the paleo diet is low-carb by default if not express intention.

Ketogenic

The theory behind the ketogenic diet is tricky to understand, but we’ll try and keep it simple. Our bodies tend to rely on carbohydrates for fuel. If we restrict our carb intake, then our system is forced to reach for another source of fuel. The chosen replacement for carbs tends to be fat, leading to weight loss. Those following a ketogenic diet tend to eat less than 20g of carbohydrates per day, leading to a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when your body is using fat, rather than carbohydrates, for fuel. Many people who are in ketosis can fast for long periods of time, as they are using their own fuel stores — i.e. their fat — for energy.

Both diets, when practiced properly, can lead to weight loss and improved health. Though they have different reasons for wanting to restrict carbs — paleo focusing on being anti-grain, keto focusing on ketosis — the end result is the same.

Don’t Our Bodies Need Carbohydrates?

Not necessarily. It’s long been suggested that carbohydrates are essential; even now, governments tend to recommend a daily intake of around 250-300g. However, there are millions of people eating far, far less than that, and doing just fine.

If you’re considering restricting your carbs, it’s only good sense to speak to your doctor beforehand.

Certain health conditions — primarily diabetes — may result in a person being told by medical professionals to restrict carbohydrates. This is because carbs convert to a sugar, glucose, when ingested. If you need to eat a low-sugar diet, then restricting carbs is vital to this– but you should still check with a medical professional.

If People Can’t Eat Carbs, What Do They Eat?

Most of us are quite used to eating carbs and see them as essential. You’ve probably eaten carb-heavy foods like rice, bread, or even fruit in the past few days. So if you’re contemplating a low-carb diet, what on earth can you actually eat?

The general rule is to eat protein for energy and fat for satiety. Both paleo and keto advocates are fans of healthy fats, such as butter and cheeses. Neither diet is high protein — like the Atkins diet that caused so much damage a few years ago — but both advocate ensuring you hit your daily recommendation of protein. You can find out how much protein you should be eating here.

Here are a list of foods that those on low-carb diets tend to rely on:

  • Lean meats, such as chicken or pork. Meat tends to be steamed or cooked in a pan with a healthy oil, such as olive– but never common “vegetable oil”.
  • Seafood is a good source of protein and is low in calories and carbohydrates.
  • Avocadoes tend to feature prominently in both diets. Avocados are nutrient-dense and a great source of healthy fats. Avocados are trimmed to size so they can be eaten comfortably, which is a good reason why you should get a mandoline slicer if you’re considering switching to low-carbs.
  • Eggs and nuts also feature prominently in both diets, as they are good sources of nutrients, high in protein, and high in good fats. There is also some evidence to suggest nuts are particularly good at suppressing appetites.
  • Leafy green vegetables are common on both diets.
  • Cheese and other sources of healthy fats tend to be welcomed also.
  • Quinoa is also common, as it’s high in protein but low in carbohydrates. Many low-carb advocates substitute quinoa for rice to turn popular dishes into low-carb alternatives.
  • Cauliflower rice is another popular rice substitute for those on a low-carb diet.

As you can see just from the list above, there’s actually a surprising amount of foods that can be eaten on a low-calorie diet.

What Foods Should Be Avoided On A Low-Carb Diet?

It’s next to impossible to eat a truly low-carb diet if you’re eating any of the following:

  • Tortillas
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Potatoes. This may come as a surprise; potatoes are generally seen as good for us due to their nutrient content, but they contain a staggeringly high amount of carbs.
  • Other root vegetables. A general rule of thumb is that vegetables that grow above the ground are okay, but anything that grows beneath the ground is to be avoided.
  • Any food that is high in sugar, including fruit, which is high in fructose.

Should I Try A Low-Carb Diet?

Firstly, it’s important that you speak to your doctor before making such a drastic change to your diet.

With that done, the rest of the decision largely relies on your preferences. If you’re trying to lose weight, then many people achieve this with great results when they switch to a low-carb diet. People also report they have more energy on a low-carb diet.

However, the scientific consensus — at present; research is ongoing — believes carbohydrates to be essential for health. You could perhaps try having a couple of low-carbohydrate days per week and see how you feel as a result.

The low-carb diet can be tough to stick to, meaning that you have to sacrifice a lot of your favorite foods. However, if it suits you, it could be the health and weight loss solution you have been waiting for– provided you get your doctor’s backing, of course.

 

 

 

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